Monday, October 26, 2020

Life Experiences as Written by Joe Nick Garza: Part 1

 Introducing Joe Nick Garza: A resident of San Antonio, Texas,

Jo Nick Garza spent part of his earlier years along with his parents and siblings as migrant workers in Lawrence County, Illinois and Knox County, Indiana. During recent communication with "Joe Nick" he agreed to share some of his life experiences with the Lawrence County Historical Society. His lifetime accomplishments are an inspiration to many: migrant worker, husband and father to a wonderful family, outstanding student and later an outstanding educator in San Antonio, and a very capable administrator and superintendent in the San Antonio school system. In the private sector he became a professional musician and member of many jazz and dance bands. He was also the director of music for the very historic San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio.  

Life Experiences as written by Joe Nick Garza:  

Vincennes, Indiana - Summers 1948 to 1959  

My father took us to work for the Vincennes Tomato Packing Company in Vincennes, Indiana, in the summer of 1948. The company provided a dwelling across the street from their packing shed. The family transplanted hundreds of acres of tomatoes using transplanting machines when possible, then cleared the fields of weeds and finally harvested tomatoes. In some of those summers we were provided a dwelling located in the Charles Robinson Sr. farm. In between those phases in the tomato business, the family worked in the production of hybrid seed corn for Charles H. Schenk &Sons located south of Vincennes. We eliminated "suckers" in both yellow and white corn fields and then detasseled those fields when corn stalks matured to that level. We could yank suckers at ground level in white corn plants; however, we had to use machetes to cut the suckers from yellow corn plants. Yanking did not work with yellow corn. And in between that work the family picked peaches for both the like Orchards and the Purcell Orchards located north of Vincennes. We learned we had to wear long sleeve shirts and bandanas around our necks to protect ourselves from the peach fuzz that could penetrate our pores and itch like the dickens. We also had to be wary of the poison ivy and poison oak ground cover around the peach trees.  

We were also provided dwellings by the Schenks in some of those years. We also worked for other farmers chopping down sunflower-like plants from soybean fields and picking watermelons and cantaloupes for others.  

The summer of 1959 was the last summer we worked in Indiana. The Schenks and/or related industry had developed pollen-less corn eliminating the need for us to chop down the suckers and detasseling the corn fields.  

IIlinois ...... Latta Farms 1952-1954  

My brother, already married by then, came in contact with Alvin Mahrenholz to work in Mr.  Mahrenholz' Latta Farms. Mr. Mahrenholz provided a home for him and the remaining members of our family: my dad, mom, sisters Nerea, Noelia, Nelida (Nellie) and myself. Nellie and I enrolled at Hutton 5th Elementary School, a two-room schoolhouse. Mr. Mack, the principal, taught in a classroom of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders while Miss Bessie taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in the other classroom. Nerea and Noelia enrolled in school at Lawrenceville Township High School in Lawrenceville. My brother and my father worked at the farm in the fall of 1952. It was in the Fall of 1952 when my father and brother took my mother to Brownsville, Texas, to take her exam for becoming a naturalized American citizen. My mother was so very proud that she had finally become an American citizen.  

 My brother had a disagreement with Mr. Mahrenholz resulting in the dissolution of the working relationship he and Dad had enjoyed with Mr. Mahrenholz. The family packed up in the dead of winter and returned to Penitas. We finished up our school year in the La Joya ISD back home. Sometime in the spring of 1953 Mr. Mahrenholz called my brother and asked him and Dad to consider going back to work for him. So, we went back and lived in the same house Mr. Mahrenholz had provided in our earlier years stay there. Nellie enrolled in school in Hutton; I enrolled at Lincoln in the eighth grade, and Nerea and Noelia returned to the high school in Lawrenceville. We finished out the year while Dad and Nestor worked for Mr. Mahrenholz.

(Ed Note:  Thanks to J and J Faro for this week's articles.)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Even More Ladies of Lawrence County

 and even more ladies of Lawrence County...not all from obituaries...

Mary Lou Moore was the first woman Circuit Clerk in Lawrence County.

Julia Brink was the first woman coroner.

Ada Harrolle was the first woman County Clerk, taking over after the death of Lyle Steffey.

Patricia Groves was the first woman elected County Clerk, being elected in 1952, and again in 1975.

Peggy Bradley, whose husband was a police officer killed in a car wreck, was elected County Clerk in 1958.

Oma Marguerite Lynch was County Clerk in 1975, between William Hensley and Patricia Groves.

Nancy Hoke was elected County Clerk in 1994.

Mary Jane Siddons Nickens was a psychologist and a member of Mensa; she skipped second grade and went straight to third. She finished her doctorate at age 58 and wrote a book on autistic children.

Harriett Vanatta was an optometrist in Lawrence County.

Elizabeth Ann Dunseth was an informational writer for the Department Of Public Health-State of Illinois. She also taught for one year at Eureka College. She served on the Board of Trustees for Vincennes University, was a member of the Vincennes University Foundation, PEO Chapter the 99'S (Women Pilots).

Helen Mae Nuttall was a social worker for State of Illinois, joining the staff in February, 1942, as a caseworker in Lawrence County. She worked as a Special ADC caseworker in Lawrence, Richland, and Wabash Counties from October 1946 to October 1949, when she transferred to the Agency's Administrative Review Staff. In May 1956, Miss Nuttall became a member of the policy-writing staff in the Office of Methods and Procedures in Chicago. She became a consultant in Champaign in February 1958. Her education was in the public schools of Lawrence County, Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois.

Mildred Nuttall was a home extension advisor for Lawrence County.

Betty Mae Moore was a member of Preceptor Delta Gamma, Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, the First Christian Church of Lawrenceville, and retired editor of the Daily Record. 

Middie Suftin was a news reporter on WVMC, a radio station in Mt. Carmel, as well as a reporter for the Vincennes Post, and society editor for the Daily Record. 

Lisa Wade was the first woman States’ Attorney in Lawrence County.

Dr. June Dollahan was a member of Preceptor Delta Gamma, Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, member of the First Christian Church of Lawrenceville, retired editor of the Daily Record.

Clara "Turk" Waggoner Turk spent her entire life in Lawrenceville except the 20 years she spent in the Army. Turk graduated from Lawrenceville High School in 1925, and was immediately employed by the school as librarian and then clerk and secretary to the superintendent and remained in that position for over 18 years. In 1943, Turk enlisted in the Women's Army Corps and served in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war and retired in 1965 as Chief Warrant Officer, 4th Class, after 20 years of active duty. After retirement from the Army, Turk returned to  Lawrenceville and was employed by the public library and retired from there in 1976.

Doris Costello was a poet with published works.

Ruth Shick Montgomery, Frances Crane, and Aloise Tracy were authors.

and you too can be an author and help us find more ladies of Lawrence County. If you want to share the accomplishments of your mother, grandmother, or other ancestor, or even yourself, (although we would like for it to be true) please send it to us at If you would like to help research and write about any of the women mentioned here, that would great also.  


Thursday, October 22, 2020

More Ladies of Lawrence County

 More Interesting Ladies of Lawrence County

Sue Pepple was born about 1864 to Joseph and Texanna Harper. The family moved from Bardstown, Kentucky, to Lawrence County. When she was 11 years old a man paid her a dime to bring him water so that his brother might bathe while he was in the backseat of the buggy, as they were taking him to the doctor. The injured man was Frank James who was shot during a recent bank robbery. Jessie James told her they were heading to Louisville, which was not true. Had he been honest when the law came, she might have been responsible for the capture of Jessie James.

Mildred McCarty was killed when a bridge collapsed at Westport, five miles west of Birds.

Nora Montgomery was installed as president of the American Legion, Fifth Division.

Perl Bunn Pinkerton was associated with civic and business interests in Lawrence County. She and her husband owned the Phoenix Theater in Lawrenceville and she worked for Indian Refinery for a number of years.

Lucia McConn was known as the stork's best friend because as a midwife, she delivered more than 3700 babies.

Theresa Lackey, wife of George Lackey, was a member of the Eastern Star, White Shrine, the Lawrenceville Mentor Club and the Lawrenceville Woman's Club. She was also a schoolteacher, committeewoman for the Democratic Party, and an advocate for better education.

Clara Mae Barnes and four children were killed in a traffic accident in Indiana; this was the largest single funeral in Lawrence County at that time.

Nancy Ellen Maxwell, wife of A. L. Maxwell, was a member of the Christian Church for 78 years.

Harriet Inmon spent her life as a practical nurse helping hundreds of Lawrenceville people in time of sickness.

Cora Kirkwood was a teacher, charter member of Toussaint Dubois DAR, a lifelong member of the Christian Church, a charter member of the PEO Chapter, a charter member of the Women's club and a member of the Lawrence County Women's Farm Bureau. She was a president of the PEO four times and president of the DAR, as well as a leader in both the Woman's Club and Farm Bureau.

Mother and daughter, Nancy and Lela Mae Palmer, were killed by a fast-moving train in Sumner.

Emma Ritchie, after her husband died leaving her with five children, took over the job raising them and running the farm until the boys were of age to support themselves.

Eliza Crawford was employed at the Five-Sister Factory when her car was struck by a train.

Maxalee Black began her career at age 9, working for her parents at Uncle John’s Kiddieland; she was well known as a sales associate at Black’s Jewelry Store.

Ella Lane was a businesswoman who owned a ladies ready-to-wear business in Lawrenceville for 40 years.

Gladys Ribley, with her husband, owned several businesses in Lawrenceville; she made an unsuccessful bid for County Treasurer in 1970.

Nancee South, noted TV entertainer, who appeared with Jerry Van Dyke and Arthur Godfrey, was from Lawrenceville.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Ladies of Lawrence County

 The ladies of Lawrence County are an interesting and often successful breed of women. Most of them did not make a name for themselves as significant nationally-recognized historic figures, although quite a few did. If fact, they probably didn’t aspire to even be noticed while they were courageously facing life’s obstacles or willfully shaping their futures to suit their own desires.  But either by default or intentionally, they left their mark on the county’s history.  

As Kevin Borden and Flossie Price were locating and organizing obits, they started putting together a list of interesting women and their accomplishments. Obviously this is not a complete list but it IS a start. More on that later... Did you know:

Grace Buchanan operated a bookstore and bus depot.  

Uda Childress died in the home in which she was born.

Estella Cox Green help organize the Missionary Society at Pisgah Church; she was a member of Eastern Star, the Garden Club, the Woman's Club and the Tourist Club.

Mary Elisabeth Denison, after the death of her husband in 1902, continued to operate the farm as a shrewd farmer and businesswoman.

Mabel Gramm Knipe was prominent in literary circles and, with her husband, owned Suttle Apparatus Company.

Alice Hudson was an excellent businesswoman who, with her husband, owned Hudson Grocery Store in Lawrenceville.

Mattie Kingery started the Dixie motel in the 1930s and completely remodeled it in 1952; once a son of John D. Rockefeller was a guest.

Jane Anderson at the age of eight years old knocked on the door of the home of Martin Kirkwood and asked if she might live with them and work for them for her board; the only information she provided was that she was looking for an aunt who was never found. She continued to make her home with the family for life and died at the age of 84.

Mabel Cook was a telephone operator for the Indian and Texaco refineries for 20 years.

Phoebe Sumner operated a tailoring and clothes cleaning business.

Lenora Kirkwood, daughter of Daniel Catterton, whose great-grandfather Rawlings built the second house on the road between Vincennes and St. Louis, had four children including Dr. Tom Kirkwood.

Stella Wiltse was elected supervisor of Lawrence township, the only woman to ever hold that office in Lawrence County.  

Katherine Marshall was a member of the Methodist Church and taught many classes including a class known as the Katherine Marshall Circle. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star and a Past Worthy Matron of that order and was once the Grand Organist of the Eastern Star for the state of Kentucky.

Carrie Watts came from two pioneer families.  George Whitaker at one time owned 800 acres of Lawrence County land and her mother's father, William Christie, was a land agent for the government in Christy Township. She married Thomas Watts combining her land with that of her husband who owned much of the real estate in the city. The Watts additions were laid out from lands she owned.

Continued tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Duel in (Lawrence County) Illinois Territory Conclusion

Continued from Yesterday

The participants in this illegal activity were Capt. Parmenas Beckes, an inn-keeper, a popular one-time sheriff, and a veteran of the Battle of Tippecanoe, and Edward Scull, a surgeon with Harrison’s army.  Dr. Scull, who had been a suitor for the hand of Beckes’ stepdaughter, (Miss Johnson) made some slighting remark regarding the chastity of the young lady, and Capt Beckes challenged him to a duel.  

The day dawned clear, with no hint of what was to come. Dr Scull is said to have gone into the fight with great reluctance, and at the word “fire” discharged his piece into the air.  Beckes fired and missed.  The doctor said to his friends, according to one account, that he did not wish to kill or injure Beckes, and that he had no cause to quarrel with him.  

Their companions, who agreed to act as their seconds, endeavored to bring about reconciliation, but Beckes would not consent.  The pistols were charged anew; each took his post and fired nearly at the same instant. Beckes was struck in his right side, and as he fell, exclaimed, “Doctor, you have killed me!”  He died in a few moments. Scull was unharmed. He immediately put his accounts and unfinished business in the hands of an agent for settlement and left Vincennes. 

Beckes’ body was interred at one o’clock on the 7th at the American burial ground. The Masonic fraternity walked in solemn procession to the grave of their deceased brother, the first to receive a masonic burial in that jurisdiction.  The United States Infantry and the artillerists stationed at Fort Knox, joined in the solemn service, and Captain Beckes was buried with all the honors of war, amidst hundreds of spectators that commiserated the loss of this truly worthy man.

According to one source the men who acted as seconds for the participants, fought a duel over the same cause, on the same ground, and with the same weapons (pistols), in which Irwin Wallace, Beckes’ second, killed Isaac Richardson, a Fort Knox lieutenant. This was not recorded in the newspaper of the time.

(Ed Note: Some accounts state that the date was July 14, but the Western Sun published on July 10, 1813, indicates the duel occurred "the past Tuesday.") 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Duel in (Lawrence County) Illinois Territory

Death by Duel

An Act for the Prevention of Vice and Immorality from 1787 for the Northwest Territory prohibited challenging anyone by word of mouth, or by writing, to fight at sword, rapier, pistol or other deadly weapon.  Upon conviction, an offender faced a fine of up to $250 dollars or imprisonment without bail for up to 12 months.  A person accepting or delivering a challenge or consenting to be a second in the match was also liable.  

In 1813 the problem continued to vex territorial officials who enacted a more stringent dueling law that even required all government officials and attorneys to take an oath disavowing their involvement in the practice and increased the fine to $2000.  This, however, did not prevent two Vincennes residents from engaging in the activity later that year on July7. As the actual duel occurred across the river in what would become the Westport area of Lawrence County, this is believed to be the first recorded duel held in the Illinois territory.

The participants were Capt. Parmenas Beckes, an inn-keeper, a popular one-time sheriff, and a veteran of the Battle of Tippecanoe, and Edward Scull, a surgeon with Harrison’s army.  Beckes had married a Mrs. Johnson, a widow, and the mother of a beautiful daughter.  Dr. Scull, who had been a suitor for the hand of Beckes’ stepdaughter, (Miss Johnson) made some slighting remark regarding the chastity of the young lady.   “If she was as good as she is pretty, she would be a jewel.” 

This language coming to the ear of her stepfather angered him.  Beckes issued a challenge of dueling pistols at ten paces. In those days settling personal disputes under the code of honor was considered indispensably necessary if a man desired to maintain any sort of standing in the best society.  If he failed to offer a challenge to fight a duel, or to accept one when offered, he was considered a coward, and treated as such.   

But before Beckes could meet his fate, he wrote a letter to his brother Benjamin V. Beckes, in July, 1813, which explains the incidents which led to the affair of honor, wherein he says: 

“This may be the last of my writing to you, being about to engage in a duel, a custom I ever abhorred, but there are circumstances which sometimes render it necessary.  A man who insinuates himself into your esteem, professes the most profound friendship for your family, paying his address to your daughter, gaining her affections, promises in the most solemn manner to marry her, asks permission of her parents, fixes a date for their marriage, and you afterwards ascertain that all this was done for the express purpose of ruining her reputation and destroying the happiness of her family, is it possible that any man can tamely submit to an insult of this kind?  Such is my situation with Dr. Scull, and for such conduct I am about to punish him, or lose my live in the attempt.  Although I have no daughter of my own, yet it is as much my duty to protect and vindicate the character of those under my charge as if they were my own.  If unfortunately I should be killed in this affair, I have left a will in which you and William Prince are left my executors, feeling confident you will not think hard of attending to my affairs, and Prince will be an able assistant to you.  My affairs are somewhat unsettled, but do the best you can for me.  Pay attention to my wife, for to me she has been a good one.  My own fate hereafter I trust in the honor of that God who gave it to me, fully believing his power to save and disposition so to do.  Adieu, my dear brother!  Should you next behold me cold as clay, see me decently interred, is my last request.” 

To Be Continued 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

For the Genealogists- Divorces- Fall Term 1920

Divorces granted: Eva P. Hungerford was granted a divorce and permitted to resume her maiden name from Otto Hungerford.

Nellie Harness against Chas E. Harness filed for divorce and custody of their four minor children on the grounds of cruelty. Divorce granted; Mother granted custody.

Clayton B. Fowler vs Sarah Fowler; divorce granted.

Bernice Stevens vs Dennis Stevens; divorce granted.

George Archer vs Sophia Pearl Archer; divorce granted.

Polly E. Conway filed a complaint that her husband Fred F. was cruel and had willfully deserted her; divorce granted.

Oliver Cardinal vs Melissa Cardinal; divorce granted.

Noah Brown vs Lily Brown; divorce granted.

Charles H. Jones vs Bessie Jones; divorce granted.

Grover C. Dowel vs Irene E. Dowel; divorce granted.

Polly E. Conway filed a complaint that her husband Fred F. was cruel and had willfully deserted her; divorce granted with wife permitted to resume maiden name of Adams.

And Albert Beanblossom gave notice that he would not be responsible for debts of his wife, Nora Beanblossom.